Tuesday, February 14, 2012

University professor Alex Wearing has been murdered in his study - Jill Paterson, Author of "The Celtic Dagger" Feb 14 - 16

Happy Valentine's Day!

Congratulations to TrinaRomeo!
Trina won a copy of Murder At The Rocks.

I'm so excited to interview my new friend and fellow author Jill Paterson. Like me, Jill loves to read a good murder mystery. She has published two book, The Celtic Dagger and Murder At The Rocks. The Celtic Dagger was a winner of the NSW Writers Centre New Holland Publishers 2008 Genre Fiction Award.

We visit with Jill in beautiful Canberra, Australia. It would be so cool to see a Kangaroo or Koala Bear. I have always thought Australia would be an awesome place to visit. Maybe one day!

Readers, Thank you for joining us today. Before we get on with the questions & answers, I wanted to share Jill's BIO with you.

Jill Paterson grew up in Adelaide before spending 11 years in Ontario, Canada. After returning to Australia, she settled in Canberra where she now lives with her husband, John. Jill has three adult children. When she is not writing, she is an avid reader, loves going to the theatre, travelling, and delving into her family's genealogy.

Louise: Jill, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Jill: I decided to pursue publication as soon as I had completed my first book, The Celtic Dagger.  This was back in 2007.  I’d been working on it for about four years.  (At the time, I had a day job.)  As publishers rarely take unsolicited manuscripts, I did the round of agents, hoping that one of them would agree to represent me.  By the middle of 2008, I had exhausted the supply in Australia, so I entered my book in the NSW Writers Centre/New Holland Publishers Genre Fiction Award 2008.  I was delighted to come second in that competition and it led to New Holland Publishers publishing The Celtic Dagger.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your latest release Murder at the Rocks without giving too much of a spoiler away.

Jill: Murder At The Rocks is the second book in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series.  It’s a murder/mystery, set in Sydney and features Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn and his young sergeant, Martin Betts.  Their precinct includes the The Rocks area which was the first European settlement in Australia.  Established in 1788 it’s located on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, just below the bridge and a stone’s throw from the Opera House.

The main character in Murder At The Rocks, is Nicholas Harford, a Geoscientist, who returns from South America to find his father dead and his uncle, Laurence Harford, scheming to get his hands on his dead brother’s estate.  Unfortunately for Laurence, he is murdered one dark night.  And unfortunately for Nicholas, he finds himself a suspect in Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn’s investigation.  If that isn’t enough of a homecoming, Nicholas becomes further involved when he receives a mysterious gold locket that starts a chain of events unraveling his family’s dark truths.

When Laurence Harford, a prominent businessman and philanthropist is found murdered in the historic Rocks area of Sydney, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is asked to solve the crime quickly and discreetly.  After barely starting his investigation, uncovering a discarded mistress and disgruntled employees, a second killing occurs.

Meanwhile, Laurence's nephew, Nicholas Harford, has his certainties in life shaken when he becomes a suspect in his uncle's death, and receives a mysterious gold locket that starts a chain of events unravelling his family's dark truths.

Louise: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Jill: I’d have to say that my characters evolve as I write.  For example, in the book I’m writing at the moment called, Once Upon A Lie, I knew my victim had a business partner but that’s about all.  As I started to write the first scene the business partner appears in, his character emerged as I typed.  I love deciding where they will live and what their occupations will be.  You can give your characters all you ever dreamed of.  If they are nice people, that is.

Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

Jill: When I start a new book I try to visit all the settings that my characters will inhabit.  Many of them, such as restaurants and hotels, I may have dined at and stayed in myself.  The Sir Stamford on Macquarie Street in Sydney where Nicholas Harford stays when he arrives back from South America is one such example.  It’s my favorite boutique hotel.  Nicholas also dines one night at CafĂ© Sydney over looking Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House.  I’ve had many wonderful dinners there.  I know The Rocks area quite well, but even so, while writing Murder At The Rocks I did revisit a lot of places just to refresh my memory and take a few photographs.  I think I get a bit pedantic at times because if one of my characters is walking somewhere I’ll actually do that walk just so I can get the atmosphere and landscape right.  Of course, the web is a wonderful tool for specific detail as is talking to people.  I don’t know that I’ve found any cool tidbits while researching, but I’m always looking!

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Jill: I’d have to say that I’m a Pantser.  I start working from an initial idea and see where it takes me.  Having said that, I do keep a time line of all my characters so that I can see where they were when the murder(s) happened.  I also keep a character table to remind myself of their specific details: especially for minor characters.  It doesn’t do for their hair to change color or suddenly lose 100 pounds.

Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Jill: I write full-time, but for many years I worked, as many of us do, in a day job.  These positions included the Law Faculty at the Australian National University where I was studying at the time.  I was what was then called, the Dean’s Secretary.  After I got my degree, I went to work for the Business Council of Australia.  It represents Australia’s large corporations.  After leaving there, I went back to academia to work in the School of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, ADFA Campus, as their School Administrator.

I’ve enjoyed all my day jobs very much, but it left little time for writing.  So nowadays I’m delighted to be able to write full time.

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Jill: I use a laptop as well as pen and paper and I usually work in my study.  My cat, Fergus, a British Shorthair, with big yellow eyes, is my constant companion.  He’s what you would call an ‘indoor cat’ although the back patio is also part of his domain.  He has short legs, so he can’t climb over the fence.  If he isn’t sitting on my printer or in the bookshelf then he sits at the window keeping track of the sparrows in the birdbath outside.  He growls at them.  It makes his day!

Louise: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Jill: My typical writing day would be to feed Fergus who will be waiting in the kitchen for his breakfast at 6am.  I then go to my local pool and attempt to swim 20 laps.  On the way to the pool I pray that I won’t have to share a lane with someone who thinks he’s Michael Phelps because I don’t swim fast.  It’s just after 9am when I return home at which time I make a cup of tea and ensconce myself in my study until lunch time.  After lunch I work through until almost 5pm.  Depending on what I’m working on, I will often go back and work during the evening.  Of course, this typical writing day doesn’t always happen because ‘life’ gets in the way!

Louise: LOL I can definitely see who rules your house! Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Jill: I have two books on the horizon.  Once Upon A Lie, which I’m working on at the moment, and The Fourth String, which is still in my head.

Once Upon A Lie, is the third book in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series, and starts with the bludgeoning death of Michael Rossi, a pedantic, obsessive businessman who probably won’t be missed!  Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is called back from leave to take the case, and soon finds himself embroiled in a mystery within a mystery.  Not only does he find himself investigating Michael Rossi’s death but also that of Michael’s sister, Claudia, who died two year earlier.  At the same time Claudia’s daughter, Louise Merrell, becomes inadvertently involved, and a target for the killer, when she discovers poison pen letters addressed to her dead mother.

As I said, The Fourth String, is still in my head, but the idea came to me one evening while I watched the symphony at the Sydney Opera House.  I haven’t decided who the victim is, but the murder weapon will be the fourth string of a cello!

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Jill: I have a few favorite genres and authors.  Mysteries, written by Agatha Christie, Robert Goddard and Kate Morton to name a few.  I also like to read historical, spooky books by Barbara Erskine.  I loved reading Diana Gabaldon’s, Crosstitch.  My daughter introduced me to Douglas Kennedy’s books not long ago and I’ve enjoyed them all.  I’ve also read quite a few historical books by Phillipa Gregory, Sharon Penman and Ken Follett.  At the moment, I’m reading Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse.  It’s set in Geneva during the 1930s about a young woman who joins the League of Nations.

Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Jill: I’d just like to say to aspiring writers that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.  And even though at time, it may seem like you will never get your manuscript finished, you will, eventually.  You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and voila! You’re there.

Thank you for having me here today, Louise.

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web? 

Jill: On Facebook, my Facebook Fan page, Goodreads, my Web site, Blog, Twitter and Smashwords.

Louise: Thank you again Jill. 
Readers, Jill is giving away Murder At The Rocks from Smashwords to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email address in your comment so we can contact the winner

 Murder At The Rocks on Amazon

The Celtic Dagger in print - New Holland Publishers

University professor Alex Wearing has been murdered in his study.  The weapon is a valuable museum artefact.  Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn begins his relentless pursuit seeing, James, Alex's brother, as a key suspect in his investigation.

Feeling compelled to clear himself of suspicion, James starts his own investigation. Ultimately, he uncovers long hidden secrets about his brother's life before finally coming face to face with Alex's killer.


  1. Jill, thank you again for visiting with me! Your books are already on my TBR list. You mentioned one of your fav authors is Phillipa Gregory. I love to read her books. The Other Boleyn Girl was really good and so was the movie. Have you visited her web site? http://www.philippagregory.com/

  2. Sounds like a winner to me! Am going to check out a few of your books right now Jill :-) Great interview guys as always. I love to learn of New Authors for me to read!!!!

  3. Thanks Trina for your lovely comments. Best Wishes, Jill

  4. Hi Louise, Yes, I've read most of Phillipa Gregory's book and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I will have a look at her web site. Thank you.

  5. Congratulations Trina for being the brave reader to comment! I'll email you the coupon code for Smashwords shortly.
    Jill, thank you again for visiting with me.
    And to everyone else who stopped by and lingered. Be sure to check out Jill's web site and blog.
    Have a great weekend!